Skip to main content

Springing Spring

Why does it seem that with every year, winter seems to get longer and longer? No matter how mild the year, as with this past winter here in Extremadura, the dark days of the 'other' equinox drag on longer than your 10th grade math teacher droning on about algebra. I even sometimes find myself wishing that global warming would speed up.

But thankfully spring is in full swing here in Caceres, so much so that its usual intense but brief appearance may even be waning towards summer, with temperatures well into the 20's this week. The jasmine in my patio is heady and I find myself spending less and less time indoors. Soon the boom boom of the droning Semana Santa drums will echo along the millenial walls here in the Old Town and the saints will come out for their yearly airing, accompanied of course by their eerie, hooded retinue.

I came across these photos the other day on the Guardian, scenes of another spring equinox celebration, one that runs from Turkey to China, Nowruz. The picture below reminds me of a particularly curious conversation I had with a student of mine in Azerbaijan who had recently 'found religion' as it were.

After regaling me with respun words learned at the Saudi funded mosque regarding the wonders of a purer islam than that which could be found at the Iranian funded house of worship down the street, he then moved onto the Novruz celebration that was about to take place there in Baku. He filled me in on the delightfully pagan traditions of growing fresh green wheat sprouts on every kitchen table and of course, the cleansing jump over the fire seen below.

I didn't have the heart to ask him what his Wahabi wiseman thought of that...

Comments

Vacation Remix said…
Thanks for the great read. Keep it up!

Popular posts from this blog

The 10 Best Places to Swim...?

I read a post the other day listing the 10 best places to swim around the world. Reading through them I realized that I hadn't been to even one of them!

Poor me, but then I thought, wait...I've swum in some lovely places.

Let's narrow them down to 3 in no particular order.

Ginnie Springs, High Springs, Northern Florida


If northern Florida wasn't interesting enough in its own time travel way, these springs are perfect. It's a surreal place to swim among the Spanish moss while the alligators patrol out in the warmer river that the springs flow into (the big toothy grins don't like the cooler water).

Bir Ali, Yemen


Yemen never makes it onto the glossy Caribbean style travel brochures, but the emerald green of the Arabian Sea is a mighty match for hurricane alley. Just outside the town of Bir Ali you can camp on a deserted white sandy beach that seems to extend all the way down to Aden. Behind you the sands of the beach meet and mingle with those of the desert on the vol…

The Statue of Liberated Woman

Last night's Minaret exhibit was not only a chance to share some photos that I've taken on my travels but an opportunity to retrieve and relive some dusty memories that had been lying forgotten in my 1.0 memory chip mind.

During the evening, a few astute visitors were quick to notice an early Soviet-era statue that features prominently in one of the photographs, thus refreshing my memory in regards to one of my favourite emblems in Baku, Azerbaijan.

While living in the city, my wife and I lived just off Nizami square/Metro stop in the infamous 'Beysh Barmak'. Baku's first 5-story building (thus the name) that was stodgily yet sturdily built during the years of Russian rule. The window panes hadn't been changed since the 5 year plans, allowing the winter wind free access to the flat, but it was a handy address that every taxi driver knew...especially given the fact that I speak no Azeri or Russian, no matter how much vodka I drank.

At the time we lived there (2004-…

A Bit of Iranian Know-How for Semana Santa

Writing in the local paperLocal issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

Long before San (saint) Obama’s time and the recent thaws, I recall sitting at a cafĂ© in one of the posher neighbourhoods of northern Tehran. Heavy snow still sat up above us on the Alborz mountains, its run off rushing by between the towering green trees that lined the streets that snaked downhill towards the jungle of that huge city. Like now, spring was just around the corner. Young people sat all around us smoking quaylans and drinking tea, unsuccessfully trying to conceal the fact that there was more going on than tea drinking. Religiously obligatory head scarves miraculously clung from the very backs of the heads of the heavily made up young women while the young men pushed the limits of the acceptable length of hair that they could wear. True, they were afraid that the dreaded religious police, the Ershad, might…